Sunshine, pristine beaches and prime real estate are some defining features of the sun soaked state that is Florida. To own a secondary vacation home in Florida has long been a popular goal for some of the country’s elite. Since the pandemic though, the tide of Florida house ownership has shifted in a surprising direction: regular, middle income groups from out of state.
As the COVID’19 pandemic as blown through the world, disrupting long established norms, all areas of people’s lives have been affected but none more so than business and employment. Lockdowns and travel restrictions caused companies to reconsider the importance of the shared office. The pandemic proved, that with use of the internet and recent technologies, many aspects of business can be run in just an efficient manner as an office, remotely, without associated costs.
Conversely, many employees have realized that living in the suburbs of large cities and paying high rents for doing so is no longer worth it since the possibility of commuting to the office daily is still remote for the foreseeable future.
Many such people have extracted themselves from expensive rents or costly but small holdings and relocated to other areas where costs are lower and the holdings larger. Florida, with its record low mortgage rates and smaller tax burden, is one of the largest recipients of such economic migrants particularly from the high-cost economic powerhouse of New York.
What makes Florida so attractive to out of state movers is its lack of congestion. It is well known that the virus spreads faster in areas of high population density. Florida’s wide-open layouts are an attractive selling point for those hoping to avoid the worst of the pandemic. Lower costs and short distance from New York also help.
That being said, the situation isn’t as rosy as it appears. Despite the huge influx of out of state residents, the state’s population growth is at an all-time low since 2014. The reason is that while many are flocking to Florida, nearly as many are leaving. The inward movement of wealthier Northerners has increased demand for properties and driven prices up. While much lower than the Northern states, they are fast becoming unaffordable for many Florida natives. The increasingly destructive effects of climate change have also added to the desire of many natives to leave.
The state’s flat terrain and long coastlines have made it very vulnerable to hurricanes. In just the past five years, Florida has suffered from Hurricane Michael of 2018 and Irma of 2017. Added to that is the near annual flooding from which many areas of Florida suffer. Included in the list of affected areas are the prime urban areas of Orlando, Miami and Tampa.
For many, the pandemic and the associated influx presents an opportunity to divest and relocate to more climatically stable areas. The tides, be they of the ocean or of people, weigh heavily on the future of Florida as the sunshine state.